Worcester ( (listen) WUUS-tər) is a city, and county seat of, Worcester County, Massachusetts, United States. Named after Worcester, Worcestershire, England, as of the 2010 Census the city's population was 181,045, making it the second-most populous city in New England after Boston. Worcester is approximately 40 miles (64 km) west of Boston, 50 miles (80 km) east of Springfield and 40 miles (64 km) north of Providence. Due to its location in Central Massachusetts, Worcester is known as the "Heart of the Commonwealth", thus, a heart is the official symbol of the city. However, the heart symbol may also have its provenance in lore that the Valentine's Day card, although not invented in the city, was first mass-produced and popularized by Worcester resident Esther Howland.
Worcester was considered its own distinct region apart from Boston until the 1970s. Since then, Boston's suburbs have been extending further westward, especially after the construction of Interstate 495 and Interstate 290. The Worcester region now marks the western periphery of the Boston-Worcester-Providence (MA-RI-NH) U.S. Census Combined Statistical Area (CSA), or Greater Boston. The city features many examples of Victorian-era mill architecture.
The area was first inhabited by members of the Nipmuc tribe. The native people called the region Quinsigamond and built a settlement on Pakachoag Hill in Auburn.